A new study states that while sexy female news anchors may draw male viewers, it also reduces how much they actually remember about what they watched.
The Indiana University study, according to an abstract, showed participants an anchor dressed more plainly and one dressed more sexy.
Male viewers found the sexy version less suited to report on war and politics and recalled less of the news information presented by the sexy version than the plain version.
Women did not differ on their opinion of the anchor's competence regardless of appearance but encoded more information from the sexualized version.
The Consumerist said that researchers Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Lelia Samson had the anchor, a 24-year-old woman, dress first in a “tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt that accented her waist-to-hip ratio.” The anchor also wore red lipstick and a necklace.
Afterward the woman wore “a shapeless and loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt” with no lipstick nor necklace.
The participants answered 10 multiple choice questions about what they watched. Men remembered more when watching the nonsexualized version.
The blog Miller-McCune stated that the researchers found “men's cognitive mechanisms favored visual over verbal processing – or that their focus was more on the broadcaster's appearance than on what she was saying.
Miller-McCune said it showed that visual tends to win over verbal when it comes to people processing information. The blog also stated that the experiment showed a sexual image “can flood the male brain, stimulating its visual processing component 'to levels that demand close to full cognitive capacity.'”
The blog suggested that, if networks hire attractive female anchors with the hopes of grabbing more male viewers, they may get more distracted viewers than anything else.